February 21, 2018 brianradio2016

Microsoft’s cloud storage service, OneDrive, can back up your personal and work files online. It’s built into Windows 10. With it you can sync files on your Windows 10 PC to the cloud and to your other Windows PCs, smartphone or tablet (with the OneDrive app for Android or iOS installed on either). It can even sync your cloud files to your Mac (via the OneDrive desktop app).

It’s handy for collaboration too. You can share files in your OneDrive with anyone by sending them a web link.

Here are the essentials for using Microsoft OneDrive in Windows 10.

[ Further reading: Windows 10 cheat sheet ]

Getting started

There are two ways to sign in to OneDrive in Windows 10. When you sign in to your Windows 10 PC with a Microsoft user account, OneDrive is already activated by default. (If you have a free webmail account on Outlook.com, then you already have a Microsoft user account. If not, you can sign up for one for free.)

If you don’t want to sign in to Windows 10 with a Microsoft user account, you can sign in to OneDrive separately with your Microsoft user account. Right-click the OneDrive icon (it looks like clouds) in the notification area on the taskbar, select Settings, go to the “Account” tab, and click the “Add an account” button.

OneDrive Windows10 add accountMicrosoft

A panel will open. Type in the email address and password of your Microsoft user account.

Individuals get 5GB of OneDrive storage for free. Pay $2 monthly and you’ll get 50GB. Files that you upload can be no larger than 10GB. There are also two business plans: $60/user/year for 1TB, and $120/user/year for unlimited storage; the file size limit is bumped up to 15GB. OneDrive is also included with any Office 365 subscription. (See all OneDrive plans.)

Storing and syncing files via File Explorer

The primary way you’ll use OneDrive in Windows 10 is through File Explorer. When you open File Explorer, OneDrive appears in the navigation pane on the left. You can put your files in it by dragging and dropping them from another location or by saving your documents, images or other files to it from most Windows applications.

February 21, 2018 brianradio2016

Containers are meant to provide component isolation in a modern software stack. Put your database in one container, your web application in another, and they can all be scaled, managed, restarted, and swapped out independently. But developing and testing a multi-container application isn’t anything like working with a single container at a time.

Docker Compose was created by Docker to simplify the process of developing and testing multi-container applications. It’s a command-line tool, reminiscent of the Docker client, that takes in a specially formatted descriptor file to assemble applications out of multiple containers and run them in concert on a single host. (Tools like Docker Swarm or Kubernetes deploy multi-container apps in production across multiple hosts.)

In this tutorial, we’ll walk through the steps needed to define and deploy a simple multi-container web service app. While Docker Compose is normally used for development and testing, it can also be used for deploying production applications. For the sake of this discussion, we will concentrate on dev-and-test scenarios.

Docker Compose example

A minimal Docker Compose application consists of three components:

February 21, 2018 brianradio2016

The re-platforming of enterprise IT infrastructure is no small undertaking. Re-platforming is usually sparked by a shifting set of key business drivers, and that is precisely the case today. Simply put, the platforms that have dominated enterprise IT for nearly 30 years can no longer handle the workloads needed to drive businesses forward.

At the center of this digital transformation is data, which has become the most valuable currency in business. Organizations have long been hamstrung in their use of data by incompatible formats, limitations of traditional databases, and the inability to flexibly combine data from multiple sources. New technologies promise to change all that.

Improving the deployment model of software is one major facet to removing barriers to data usage. Greater “data agility” also requires more flexible databases and more scalable real-time streaming platforms. In fact no fewer than seven foundational technologies are combining to deliver a flexible, real-time “data fabric” to the enterprise.

Unlike the technologies they are replacing, these seven software innovations are able to scale to meet the needs of both many users and many use cases. For businesses, they have the power to enable faster and more intelligent decisions and to create better customer experiences.

February 20, 2018 brianradio2016

Elon Musk’s dream of building a hyperloop that can move people between Washington, DC, and New York City in 29 minutes may be a small step closer to becoming a distant reality. A Nov. 29 permit issued by DC’s Department of Transportation allows Musk’s Boring Company to dig at an…

February 20, 2018 brianradio2016

Over the decades, major technology advances have typically fallen into one of two categories: truly disruptive, where the approach is meaningfully different from anything that exists; and piggyback, where the technology leverages something that already widely exists, thereby sharply reducing both the cost of implementation and any needed behavioral changes.

In short, piggyback advances are seen as less risky and easier to adopt. (My favorite piggyback mobile implementation is several years old and came from Macy’s, which opted to leverage the huge number of audio speakers in its stores as a low-cost way to identify customers for loyalty programs.)

Whereas Amazon, Uber and Tesla may get more pages in the history books, piggyback CEOs will have an easier time in making a lot of revenue. In 2018, this brings us to mobile payments, an operation called Verdeva and a program called PayByCar. Verdeva cut a deal with the popular toll-payment RFID tag EZPass — which EZPass’ website says is currently used in 17 states in the U.S. — to allow EZPass to be detected by a merchant; the transponder number will then link to a PayByCar account.

A multifactor authentication — which really isn’t one, but more on that in a moment — has the merchant system also checking for a mobile phone number. The system needs to see both the RFID transponder and the customer’s phone for a transaction to be approved.

February 20, 2018 brianradio2016

At least it isn’t as bad as last month’s three cumulative updates for the bestest version of Windows 10 — on Jan. 3, Jan. 18, and Jan. 31 — but many people running the latest version of Windows 10, version 1709, are wondering why and how this month’s 1709 cumulative update is messing things up.

Broken USB ports

By far, the most common problem involves broken USB ports: Install this month’s cumulative update for Win10 Fall Creators Udpate, and your USB-connected devices stop working. There’s a lengthy discussion on AskWoody. One anonymous poster says:

Been dealing with this on several machines today. I uninstalled the update, reboot (Which resolves the issue) then I re-apply the update, reboot and the USB devices work normally. It seems to effect random PCs. I see it more with USB devices that require 3rd party drivers.

Rhherren goes on to say:

Same issue here for us. Our team is having reports of USB devices not working after the login screen. The devices work fine in BIOS. Still no fix yet here for us.

And many more.

February 20, 2018 brianradio2016


Apple’s spaceship campus

(Connie Guglielmo/CNET)

It isn’t right to be amused by others’ pain or misfortune. Even so, there seems to be some schadenfreude in the media about Apple employees bashing into the nearly invisible glass dividers in their new spaceship-like headquarters while staring down at their illuminated screens.

Here’s the story as Mark Bergen of Bloomberg originally reported it. First, let’s be clear that these reports are hearsay. Bergen got no response to a request for comment from Apple, and was unable to uncover any OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) reports of worker safety claims.

The core of the story is that Apple designed a fancy space to optimize collaboration and communication. The company installed huge glass window panes external to the building, but apparently also created internal glass “pods” to provide a measure of both transparency and privacy.

Workers, distracted by their smartphones (oh, the irony!) apparently keep crashing into the glass dividers inside the headquarters. In an effort to maintain the sleekness of design, post-its and other makeshift warnings applied to the glass are apparently being removed with great efficiency.

Apple’s architectural prowess in terms of pure design statement matches that of its devices. But there have been setbacks. In 2011, an 83-year old woman crashed into a glass door at an Apple store and sued the company. Speaking of Apple stores, in 2014, one of the nearly million-dollar panes of glass in the Manhattan store was shattered by an errant shard shooting out of a nearby snowblower.

According to a tweet last week from CNET reporter Shara Tibken, there’s been some dripping from the roof of Apple’s visitor center. The water (cause unknown, it wasn’t raining) caused the very chic marble floors to turn slippery — and an unnamed woman apparently slipped on the slick, wet marble and fell. We hope she’s okay.

Apple’s Shanghai store is something of a marvel. The company has patented the production of a giant, 12-meter tall glass cylinder that fronts the store. Unfortunately, the glass staircase wasn’t quite as marvelous. One of the steps broke just before the store opened.

Obsession with form over function

It’s pretty clear that Apple has something of an obsession with form over function.

Even with the slight sales slip this last quarter, there’s no denying how successful the company has been creating a nearly cult-following for its products (and yes, I’m a customer, too).

In the context of sales numbers, it’s hard to find fault with Apple’s design-first strategy. Architecturally, in terms of building design, we’ve seen a steady stream of mishaps that can be directly attributed to the company’s obsession with form over function.

Apple has also made a stream of form-over-function mistakes in its product line. Here are some examples.

Apple’s MacBook ships with exactly one port. One USB-C port. That’s it. No power adapter, nothing. If you want to charge your MacBook, you can’t connect anything else. Period.

Removing most ports from MacBook Pro. Apple’s recent MacBook Pro reboot eliminated the wonderful MagSafe connector, a design that reflected a brilliant understanding of the function and challenges of power cord usage. The design also eliminated the SD card slot, so if you want to upload images from a camera directly to your computer (or move a 3D model to a 3D printer), you need to use a dongle.

In fact, the replacement of all the ports (except the headphone jack) with four USB-C ports means that while MacBook Pro buyers might have gotten a more sleek design, they’re now stuck with the ugly and hacky reality of multiple converters and dongles.

Removing the headphone jack from iPhones. Speaking of dongles, Apple decided to remove the headphone jack from its iPhone line. Yes, that almost forces buyers to pony up for Apple’s AirPods, but it orphans a lot of users who relied on the headphone jack for headphones, mics, and a lot of other functions.

Super-thin, slippery iPhones. Although Apple can derive some cost benefits from removing a part like a headphone jack, the real reason for its removal is Apple’s attempt to continually make its devices thinner and thinner. The company also likes to make the devices quite slippery, resulting in what user experience expert Kara Pernice describes as making us all into grandmothers.

She’s referring to the iPhone’s slipperiness and fragility causing an almost universal need for a case, and using her grandmother’s plastic-sheathed furniture covers as an example. Whether the phones are slippery, or so thin they bend, Apple’s obsession with thinness is getting in the way of making a solid device.

Removing the Home button from iPhone X. In the iPhone X, Apple has removed the Home button. This means that there’s no longer a tactile way for people to return to their main screens. Instead, the awkward swipe up motion is required for almost everything. Additionally, removing the Home button removes Touch ID, another feature that Apple got right, then removed. Then there’s that weird notch. ‘Nuff said.

Apple’s Magic Mouse 2. This device is odd on many levels. Its design is sleek, so sleek that almost no one finds it comfortable to hold or use. Then there’s the charging port. For some reason (most likely to retain the sleekness), you can’t charge and use the mouse at the same time. The charging port is at the bottom of the mouse, so you have to put the mouse on its side to charge it.

Apple TV’s horrible touchpad remote. The revised Apple TV design is actually quite nice. But to navigate the screen, you have to use a touchpad on the Apple TV’s rectangular remote. First, the touchpad is almost always barely responsive, which makes jumping from app icon to app icon an exercise in frustration. Second, Apple designed the remote to be an almost perfect rectangle, so when you’re watching TV in a dark room, there’s no way to tell whether you’re pointing the remote at the TV or at yourself.

The “trash can” Mac Pro. Do I need to say anything? Nothing about this design respected the functionality needed by pro users. Nothing.

The Apple Pencil lightning connector. The Apple Pencil is a surprisingly functional device. But if you want to charge it, you have to open up the top of the pencil and stick it into a lightning connector on your iPad. Now you have a very breakable connector sticking out in a relatively ludicrous manner. Why? Because it looks pretty if you can’t see a port on the pencil.

Let’s be clear

I could go on and on about Apple’s weird design decisions, and even point to products where both form and function are simply terrible (iTunes, I’m lookin’ at you). But the point is simple. Apple’s design-centric approach produces some wonderful outcomes, but the company needs to take better care that they’re not just doing design for design’s sake.

Just because something is beautifully designed doesn’t mean it’s useful, workable, or practical.

If your products snap or bend because you wanted something super-sleek, you’re not super-slick. You’re just designing products that break.

If you’re trying to push the architectural envelope with amazing applications of glass technology, you’re not creating clarity and transparency. You’re just putting your customers at risk of falling through glass.

If your employees keep bashing into your glass walls or slipping on super-slick floors, you’re not accomplishing your goal of improving productivity. You’re just causing your folks pain and embarrassment, producing possible OSHA and workman’s comp claims, and losing productivity while your people heal.

Good design is not just about aesthetics. Good design is the overall marriage of form and function. If you sacrifice function for something that just looks good, it’s not good design. It’s just arrogant and insensitive.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

February 20, 2018 brianradio2016

With this smart plug from Etekcity, you can turn your appliances on/off remotely from your mobile device, or with your voice via Alexa. Or automate the on/off cycle with a schedule. The plug also monitors and helps control energy usage, and the slow drain that occurs even when devices are powered down. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 2,200 people on Amazon, the 2-pack of smart plugs has been discounted to just $28.99, or $14.50 per plug. See this deal now on Amazon.

This story, “$29 For Two Etekcity Smart Plugs With Alexa Compatibility – Deal Alert” was originally published by TechConnect.

February 20, 2018 brianradio2016

With this smart plug from Etekcity, you can turn your appliances on/off remotely from your mobile device, or with your voice via Alexa. Or automate the on/off cycle with a schedule. The plug also monitors and helps control energy usage, and the slow drain that occurs even when devices are powered down. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 2,200 people on Amazon, the 2-pack of smart plugs has been discounted to just $26.99, or $13.50 per plug. See this deal now on Amazon.

This story, “$27 For Two Etekcity Smart Plugs With Alexa Compatibility – Deal Alert” was originally published by TechConnect.